Reading For Friday 2 Kings 13:14-23
The prophetic ministry of Elisha, which had spanned over half a century, came to a close in the early years of Jehoash of Israel. The respected old prophet must have been around eighty years old and as he lay dying, the king came to see him. As he wept, Jehoash called Elisha by the familiar titles that were similarly addressed to Elijah when he departed from this world. The term “father” recognized Elisha as the spiritual leader and teacher of Israel. The term “chariot” perhaps also pointed to the way in which Elijah was translated. When Elijah departed this world, he left behind a capable successor; but when Elisha died, it seemed that there was no one to assume spiritual leadership. Perhaps King Jehoash feared that a great era of God’s dealings with Israel was coming to an end. Elisha, having been moved by the compassion of the king, mustered his strength in order to assure him that God would still stand by his people. The prophet instructed the king to take a bow and arrows from one of the soldiers that would have accompanied the king on this visit. The king was told to place his hands on the bow as one would normally do when about to shoot that weapon. When the king took hold of it as instructed, Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands and told him to shoot an arrow. The window was then opened, and the arrow was released as Elisha explained that the arrow symbolized deliverance from Aramean oppression. Israel would inflict an utterly crushing defeat upon the Arameans at Aphek in Gilead. Then the king was told to take the arrows remaining in the quiver and to strike the ground. Jehoash followed those instructions and hit the arrows against the floor three times. If the king had been earnestly desirous of victory, he would have kept striking until instructed to stop, or at least should have hit the floor five or six times. From his prophetic perspective, Elisha could see a missed opportunity because of Jehoash’s lethargic response. The Israelites would now defeat their enemies but thrice. Some time after the death of Elisha, some Israelite men were carrying the corpse of a companion for burial when the funeral party spotted one of these bands of raiders. With no time for a ceremony, the burial party hastily and perhaps somewhat roughly cast the corpse into the nearest sepulcher that just happened to be the one where the bones of Elisha lay. When that corpse touched the bones of Elisha, the dead man revived and rose to his feet inside the grave. God was teaching Israel respect for his prophet even after death.
Things To Consider:
- Why do you think responded the way he did in light of Elisha's imminent departure?
- Why do you think the young king needed so much reassurance?
- Do you think that the king had his trust in God or Elisha? Why?
- Why do you think death causes such a crisis of belief?
- Why do you think we sometimes stop short of complete obedience?
- God is still God in life and death.